I adopted Sarah when she was two years old. She had a tragic start to life when we adopted her from the RSPCA at Burwood, Victoria. The RSPCA told us that huskies are one of the most handed-in dogs of all species.
Initially some horrible people used her for breeding to make money. The RSPCA closed them down as the conditions were really poor and took Sarah away from that environment. She was fostered out to six different families but she escaped regularly.
The RSPCA checked my criteria carefully before the adoption and did advise me that if my attempt was unsuccessful they would have to put her down. As part of their adoption policy I had to have a counselling session with one of their qualified staff members to ensure that both Sarah and I were compatible. It went well so I was able to take Sarah home. The RSPCA councillor recommended I leave Sarah inside most of the time for the first week.
I did, but after four days I needed to go shopping and we left her inside. I was only gone for about 1 hour and when I came back the carpet at the front door was shredded. Most people would have been angry, but I felt sorry that she was in such emotional turmoil.
For the first three months when I went out she would cry loudly. (Separation anxiety). The neighbours thought I had a baby. I explained the situation and they were all very understanding.
Sarah used to have nightmares from her previous experiences where she would cry loudly and I would gently wake her up and give her a hug and talk to her. Three years on, she still occasionally has a nightmare but not very frequently.
Over a period of time with lots of training, socializing with other dogs, and love, Sarah is now a really relaxed and a beautiful pet.
Sarah loves walks, putting her head out the window of the car and she loves the beach. Sarah’s favourite toy is “Tiger” and she loves to play tug. Poor Tiger I have had to replace him on a number of occasions.
Huskies (like all dogs) are “pack animals”. They are used to being together with other dogs or humans. When left alone for long periods of time they become adventurous and sometimes destructive.
If you were left in a room all day without stimulation or things to occupy you, with the inability to get out, you wouldn’t be very comfortable. Same with huskies. If they are younger and left alone, for them, chewing off the arm of a sofa is something to do. For us, it is what is wrong with my dog?? Nothing, they need stimulation and some physical work load. After a walk, you will find that your Husky will come home and relax. Left in an apartment or house everyday can get somewhat tiresome. Thus, hmm what can I do. Carpet looks good!!
In Sarah’s case, she was two years old when we got her so she had many mind-sets. I needed to understand what would upset her. What would make her anxious. What made her happy. By watching your dog’s responses and the responding accordingly, you start to get each other.
One of the best pieces of advice from the RSPCA was “understand what makes your dog uneasy” and work it through with them.
Sarah is perfectly calm with thunder, loud noises, skateboards and even motorbikes. (These all used to freak out my previous dog). Really strong wind in trees makes her unbalanced. So sometimes I go outside and take her for a walk when it is windy to show her nothing is wrong, reassure her everything is normal. She is getting better but it still can trigger uneasiness.
Not all dogs are the same and respond the same.
When I first brought Sarah home, I thought huskies howling at the moon was standard. So first full moon I took Sarah outside and I started howling at the moon thinking it was normal. After a couple of minutes of howling I looked at Sarah and she was just standing there looking at me blankly as if to say “dad, what’s wrong with you”. I just laughed and we went inside. My point is there is no standard behaviour. It is all learnt. Your next-door neighbour may also have a husky and their environment will reflect different behaviours and circumstances.
The more time you spend observing your husky, should give you a greater understanding of their behaviour.
Discipline and Boundaries
There is a huge variety in views in how to tackle disciple and boundaries. I keep the simple approach. If she Sarah does something wrong, a simple, slightly assertive growl (like a mother dog would use to train a puppy) is generally suffice. If the behaviour continues, raise the loudness and depth of growl and in nearly all cases the dog responds. Use a light tap on the bottom if something major happens (this is almost non-existent). Huskies are very intuitive. A general change in your vocal tones is enough to alert them that something is wrong. Don’t lecture them as they have a limited understanding of vocabulary. If you only discipline them when required, they generally pick it up quick. This does depend on the dog. I use the similar technique as what a mother would communicate with her pup. If the behaviour is a little naughty a light growl. Something more severe a louder growl.
A mother dog never gives her pup a treat and a long talk when the pup has done something wrong. It is dealt with quickly and efficiently with love. The mother would never injur the pup in training, neither should humans.
If the dog doesn’t get it and keeps doing something wrong, try a different approach. How would the mother dog have communicated with the pup?
Huskies are highly intelligent. They are beautiful puppies but they grow up into big powerful dogs.
There are two main criteria people need to accept before owning a Husky.
1. Huskies need a lot of exercise and walked at least once a day, preferably twice. Including winter. If not they will start destroying gardens, carpets, furniture etc. This is due to them becoming bored. To dig holes or shred carpet is what they do. Walking or exercise limits this behaviour. Also, toys and play things help keep them amused.
2. Huskies shed fur the most of all dogs. Generally, twice a year they shed their fur. Spring and Autumn. Huge amount of fur will fall naturally. Brushing daily with a fine comb will assist with this but expect fur everywhere. In malting season expect handfuls of fur each day if combing. Car, house, garden, wherever your husky goes, there will always be a huge amount of fur. Also, if you take the husky for a swim, the fur will start shedding for the next few days.
You must not clip a husky. Either brush or let the fur fall out naturally.
Huskies are wonderful, adorable dogs. As puppies, they are so cute, but remember they will grow up to be big, strong dogs. They are designed as a working dog and they have plenty of energy.
Huskies love attention. The more time you can share with them, the more amazed you will be at what wonderful dogs they truely are. They are extremely loyal and will communicate with you whether it be to play, time for food, or even to go to the toilet.
Generally, huskies are amazing with children and there are many beautifully video clips on YouTube “huskies with children”.
Remember "a dog is for life, not just for Christmas." They are a beautiful animal like a child they will fall in love with and create a bond with you. If you give them up, you break their heart and that bond. If you make a commitment to a puppy, please honour it for the rest of their life. It is the greatest gift you both can share.